- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
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Who's the Canarsie football coach?
Well, it depends who you ask.
Mike Camardese, the coach for the last 28 years, received an unsatisfactory "U" rating from the school May 7, and thus was told by the United Federation of Teachers he is no longer the coach. He has filed an appeal through the union, but it will take six to eight months to resolve.
Canarsie Athletic Director Dale Wilson, meanwhile, said Thursday Camardese is still the head coach, although he is looking into "rectifying" the situation. Wilson was referring to Camardese not being present at the team's spring activities.
"He was not terminated," Wilson said. "I can't answer any questions about it because he has a case pending and he has filed a grievance."
Camardese, 56, insists he has been let go, saying the athletic director is using semantics to make it seem as if he's still the coach. He owns a career 196-100 record, including a 7-3 mark last season, and led the team to four Public Schools Athletic League title games.
"He told me himself. When he gave me the U-rating, I asked if I was no longer the coach and he told me I wasn't the coach anymore," Camardese. "They wanted me to stay on until they hired a new coach and transition with the boys, which makes no sense to me."
Camardese did not want to go into specifics about what contributed to his U-rating, but mentioned showing up early to games -- yes, early, not late -- and his coaches parking in wrong spots as things used against him in his grading. He said he was the only member of the coaching staff to receive the U-rating.
"They told me about the U-rating and I said 'tell me to my face I'm not a good football coach,'" Camardese said. "I was told they think I'm a great coach between the lines, it's the other stuff I couldn’t do, which was ridiculous. Last year, they tried to take away some of my coaches and parents fought against that. They wanted me out and the bureaucrats were able to do it."
Camardese, a retired physical education teacher, is appealing the rating, but the timetable of the appeals process would keep him out until the end of the season, if he can return at all. He questioned the timing of his dismissal, as it prevented him from having his appeals process before the season began.
He said his removal is part of a school-wide effort to get rid of anyone who had ties to the old Canarsie High School. Canarsie was phased into the Canarsie Educational Campus at the end of the 2010-11 school year, and the coach said the new administration has made it almost impossible to coach. He said the boys and girls basketball coaches both left under the new leadership, and all banners of former teams' accomplishments were removed.
"They cut down on practice times, we had to go to a park to practice instead of the school. They told me we couldn't come into the school before 10 a.m. on the day of a game, which is utterly ridiculous," Camardese said. "It was just ridiculous stuff."
While he may not ever coach Canaraise again, Camardese said this would not be the end of his coaching career.
"I'll be back somewhere," Camardese said. "I have a lot of things to accomplish."